In the 1970s, Soviet scientists discovered paleoarcheological remains in the cave that led to further explorations. So far, 22 strata have been identified, with archeological artifacts that cover the time from Dionisij back to about 125,000-180,000 years ago. The dating of the strata was accomplished by the use of thermoluminescence dating of sediments, or, in some cases, radiocarbon dating on charcoal. Among the archeological artifacts are Mousterian– and Levallois-style tools attributed to Neanderthals. Beside tools, researchers found decorative objects of bone, mammoth tusk, animal teeth, ostrich egg shell, fragments of a stone bracelet made of drilled, worked and polished dark green chloritolite, and pendants. The average annual temperature of the cave remains at 0°C (32°F), which has contributed to the preservation of archaic DNA among the remains discovered. ~ Wikipedia
I love all things mystical and mysterious. The idea of ancient remains of humans that offer clues about our shared ancestry fills me with wonder and delight. So naturally, I would want to find out all about it. I searched through computer archives for scholarly papers on the Denisovans, I read up on Mousterian and Levallois tools, and I did a quick Google search for chloritolite.
Hmmmmm. Something not working here. Search engines are busted. There is no such mineral or metamorphic rock as chloritolite. What were supposedly scholarly articles, and a heavily annotated wikipedia, had just named a rock that did not exist anywhere in the scientific categorical listing of gemology …you’d think they would have the name correct on something as simple as a rock, but nooOOooo. Absolutely nothing.
Methinks I need to find a geologist friend and ask about this. Anyone out there who is a geologist and can help me with this puzzling detail?
Maybe I spelled it wrong.
So I tried spelling it a couple of different ways. chloristolite, chlaritolite, chloritalite…nothing comes up. Of course, Google being Google, is far smarter than me. It asks with that smug, know-it-all, holier-than-thou attitude (which I love by the way): Did you mean: Chlorastrolite.
I thought—sure. Why not. Nothing was coming up on any search I did for chloritolite anyhoo. So I followed the link and this is what Wikipedia says:
Chlorastrolite occurs as amygdaloid structures and fracture fillings in basalt, and when the water and wave action has worn away the basalt, they are found as beach pebbles and granules in loose sediments. It is found in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Isle Royale is a National Park, and so it is illegal to collect specimens there. It is difficult to identify an unpolished pebble of chlorastrolite. Most gem quality chlorastrolite stones are very small, and it is rare to find one that is larger than a half inch. The largest gem quality stone is in the Smithsonian and measures 1.5 by 3 inches. ~ Wikipedia
So I go to other websites and continue my armchair research.
Isle Royale Greenstones (Chlorastrolite) are so striking with their stunning chatoyancy and handsome alligator-like pattern. People think of diamonds as rare, when, in fact, they are artificially scarce due to lack of free market sales and cartel controls. Michigan Greenstones on the other hand are a one-source gemstone. Chlorastrolite can be translated from its Greek roots as “Green Star Stone”. Chlorastrolite is one of the rarest gemstones on earth. Nowhere else in the world are Greenstones found other than in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula and on Isle Royale National Park, where they are illegal to harvest. ~ Snob Appeal Jewelry
And here is where I got stuck. If the rock can only be found around the shoreline of Michigan’s great lakes, how the hell did it get inside a cave located in the Bashelaksky Range of the Altai mountains, Siberia, Russia? Really, you’d think the archaeologists/paleontologists would get the name of the rock correct…or at least find a bracelet with some local, easy to find stones. Instead, they had to find a bracelet made up of one of the rarest stones in the world, one which only has a single source, and that source would happen to be on the other side of the planet.
I wonder what they’ll come up with next…that Denisovans are a mysterious race that had been imbued with an as-yet-unknown genetic infusion from another mysterious race that we have no clues about?
Oh…wait a minute…
A comparison with the genome of a Neanderthal from the same cave revealed significant local inbreeding, with local Neanderthal DNA representing 17% of the Denisovan genome, while evidence was also detected of interbreeding with an as yet unidentified ancient human lineage. ~ Wikipedia
…and the plot thickens…